Holy crooning caped crusaders Batman!

July 25, 2009

batmanbeyondThere was a piece in yesterday’s L.A. Times about the first ever Batman musical “Mayhem of the Music Meister” being unveiled to audiences at San Diego Comic Con this weekend. The article goes on to chronicle how the producers of the “Brave and the Bold” animated series, going into its second season, thought it would be a good idea to do a musical featuring Batman, along with fellow super heroes Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Black Canary and villains gorilla Grodd, Black Manta, and Clock King.

Black Manta? Breaking into song? Lord help us…

Neil Patrick Harris, known to fans as Doogie Howser M.D. will voice the villian the Music Meister. The article goes on to talk about the genesis of the idea, but I think the producers were probably sitting around drinking beers watching Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible and thought “We can do that!” and recruited Doogie for the project.

“We wanted to free up Batman to be fun again,”  producer James Tucker was quoted as saying.

Because we all know how well that worked last time they tried it! Can we say Clooney?

When will they get that Batman isn’t supposed to be fun? He’s a gloomy, conflicted, dark, menancing angel of vengeance, not some prancing dragqueen.

I blame Batmite.

I have just one more thing to add: Buffy did it first.

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Buffy season 8 #26

July 15, 2009

Buffy season 8 #26 coverFor my money, Jane Espenson wrote some of the best Buffy episodes during her stint as executive story editor and writer on the show including third season gems like “Earshot,” and the fourth season’s “Superstar” and many of the seventh season episodes.
However, she also wrote some mediocre ones like “The Replacement” and my absolute least favorite episode ever, “Doublemeat Palace” which is considered the worst in many circles.
Buffy season 8 #26 is penned by Espenson and it feels like an extension of her work on the seventh season of the show, right down to Willow being embraced and doted on by Kennedy and featuring a huge battle between Twilight’s army of demons and the Slayers which also have magic users amidst their ranks.
Perhaps as a response to criticism that the book hasn’t resolved any subplots of late and was stagnating with constant one-shots without resolution of the main story threads, this comic feels like a watershed. Everything comes to a head, the battle against Twilight’s forces and a poignant reunion with Giles and Faith. Giles has been working with and rehabilitating Faith most of season 8, but I find it hard to swallow the fact that after all the history between the characters, Buffy can work so easily with Faith again. Of course, like she says in this issue, she has a lot of other things to worry about including trying to keep the other Slayers alive. Amy and Warren’s partnership is further explored in this comic, but as two minor villains who didn’t pose too much of a threat to Buffy in the show, their union and promotion to A list baddies is less than spectacular. Previous Buffy adversaries have proven to be more interesting. The artwork by regular penciler Georges Jeanty is serviceable, but some of it feels rushed, as though not a lot of detail has been devoted to the panels which contrast with Jeanty’s usual methods. It isn’t the case throughout the comic. There are panels which are replete with detail and there are some very effective close ups and facial expressions used effectively to create mood and tension, but some of the battle scenes and crowd shots are less detailed.
While the central theme of the new season, that humans have accepted vampires and that Slayers are now feared by humanity and have been driven into deeper and deeper hiding is explored, it’s subverted by the battle sequences. This is a more grim comic than Buffy usually offers with Andrew’s comic relief being limited. I was also confused by the ending, I know I am supposed to be surprised by the appearance of a familiar character at the end, but in reality it is hard to tell who it is. I do like the cover of this comic with the cast beautifully rendered in Earth tone hues.
Buffy #26 is a good extension of season 8 but not a standout example of how good this comic has been since its inception.


Adventures in Taborea

July 9, 2009

Summer means inevitable downtime when away from work and it has given me the perfect opportunity to try out a new MMORPG. I had been searching for one ever since Warhammer Online became available last year, but I was unable to play it due to my limited system and inferior Intel video card.

Enter: Runes of Magic by Frogster Entertainment, a free to play MMORPG that has been called a Wow clone and compared to old school EQ. Well, I never played EQ but I have played my share of MMORPGS from DDO to LOTRO to Wow and this one is not half bad so far. I was able to level up a character to 3 rather easily, even though I was a bit annoyed by the inferior quality of the camera controls for the characters. “You get what you pay for” or maybe I am just used to Wow and its ease of movement for my horde toons, nonetheless the huge landscape of Taborea in which this game is set offers much to explore and I think that I will try out a few classes before I am done examining the game.

My warrior tank fights some fungus humanoids in Runes of Magic

On the plus side, the game interface is almost identical to Wow’s and there appears to be no shortage of quests and NPCs in this game and while I prefer to play a tank, I am not adverse to trying out the two new races that the game seems to have added recently. Also, I have mostly been dealing with NPCs but with a level cap of 52 and over 200 quests, RoM may be the perfect solution to the p2p MMORPG blues even though I have yet to engage the community or to explore any guilds.

Another tempting feature to this game is the ability to level a dual class beginning with 10. This means that I can have both my warrior and another class dueling on the game server with various skill sets, although I am not quite sure how this works yet.

Wow’s new game patch is expected to drop next month and some of its benefits include mounts at level 20 and flying mounts for the Lich King expansion areas. The jury is still out on Runes of Magic, it might be the best free MMORPG out there, or it might just fizzle out like a curious summertime concoction.


Happy birthday America?

July 2, 2009

4thjuly

As we approach the nation’s birthday on Saturday, it seems we have little to celebrate this year. The Bush administration focused more on the war on terror and on foreign policy, ignoring domestic affairs and we have been in a deep recession since late 2007.

The worst recession since the 1930s, as a matter of fact. A lot of families this 4th of July holiday will be strapped for cash. MSNBC reported today that the jobless rate in the nation fell to a 26 year high. On Wall Street, the employment news pulled stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrials lost about 175 points in afternoon trading, and broader indices also fell.

Things in California, where we live, are pretty bleak. Under Republican rule,  the state declared a fiscal emergency to force lawmakers into a special session to tackle a state budget gap that has widened to $26.3 billion from $24.3 billion.  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger, who promised that he would fund education at all costs, has allowed this to happen on his watch. Vendors and local agencies, who instead of payment will get “IOU” notes promising payment must be exasperated. Taxes have gone up.

On a personal note, things became clear to me how bad they were getting when summer school was slashed at Cal Poly where I had planned to spend part of my summer. Things have to get worse before they get better, but what will it take? Another stimulus by the federal government? Hilda Solis and President Obama should seriously consider it,  people are having a hard time making ends meet.

Happy birthday America.